Tag Archives: when nature calls

Blowin’ in the Wind

9 Aug

This woman hasn't taken a shit without the help of laxatives in over 20 years.

My car needed servicing the other day; my husband had a class to attend and needed his car.  At first it looked like my four-year-old and I would have to forgo our weekly story time at the library, but then I suggested my husband just drop us off at the library early.  Phoebe and I could enjoy the woods and picnic area on the library’s property and pass the mere thirty-five minutes before the doors opened.

The best thing about our local library is the children’s librarian who genuinely loves kids, which is not the case with all librarians.  Unfortunately, there is one such crotchety blue-haired lady who works the circulation desk.  She rarely speaks except to complain, and when the kiddos pour into the juvenile section on Monday mornings for story time, she can barely contain her fits of eye-rolling and throat clearing. So when my daughter announced at 9:55, in front of the library doors that wouldn’t be opened until 10:00, that she had to poop NOW, I was more than a little disappointed to see Blue Hair at the helm.  She was tidying up the circulation desk when I knocked gingerly on the glass.

“We’re closed until 10:00,” her muffled voice seeped through the glass.

“I know, but she really has to use the restroom.  Could you please let us in?” And then I placed my hands palm to palm in the universal begging posture of ‘pretty please.’

“Sorry.  I can’t hear you.  Come back at ten.” Then Blue Hair disappeared into the back office.

“Mommy.  It’s happening,” my daughter warned.

“Phoebe, is there any way you could hold it for just four minutes?”  I knew the question was pointless.  We’ve all been there.  The shit levee had been breached.  Like she said, it was ‘happening.’

“I think we’re going to have to find a place to hide,” Phoebe announced, matter-of-fact.  This was not her first rodeo.  We have frequented many public parks and playgrounds that lacked facilities and had become experts in hiding behind trees, industrial air-conditioning units, dumpsters, etc.

Thankfully our library grounds are graced with a stand of trees and thick underbrush that would provide adequate cover.  For the poison-ivy-paranoid, there is even a winding path and patches of pine straw that offer just enough space to pop a squat without foliage conducting unwanted reconnaissance where the sun don’t shine.  I only had one tissue in my pocket, thanks to an earlier booger situation, but I was confident that I could use it strategically barring some unforeseen ‘consistency’ issues.  I reviewed what Phoebe had eaten over the past twenty-four hours and breathed easy.  One tissue could do this job.

Phoebe pulled her pants down while I adopted the posture of support which ensures, most of the time, that nothing will soil her clothing or shoes as she marks her territory.  And I noticed something odd; something was missing from this all too familiar scene.  Maybe it was familiarity that had vanquished the emotion that used to accompany these moments.  Mortification.  That was it.  The mortification I used to feel during these episodes was gone.  Sure, I was pissed off at Blue Hair for not letting us in, but even that indignation was leaving me.

People have been relieving themselves in the great outdoors for millennia without remorse.  It’s only our sheer numbers and proximity to one another that causes those pesky inconveniences like plagues and cholera.  But as long as my little one isn’t dropping a deuce in an open city sewer or peeing directly into the town’s water supply, I’m going to tell her to enjoy the breeze on her butt.  And if ol’ Blue Hair ever gets wind of what transpired, well… she can just kiss what was blowing in the wind and lighten up.

The Mile High Snub

27 May

Planes, elevators and port-a-potties probably top the list of what get my neurotic juices flowing.  My husband, who loves to laugh at me, enjoys flying with me because the face I make during turbulence trumps all my other idiosyncrasies. He even has a name for it: ‘the monkey face.’  Oh, and it comes with complimentary monkey noises too.  Very attractive.  The antidote for the monkey syndrome came when our daughter was born.  Babies know when you’re faking it, so when she was four months old and we took our first flight as mommy and baby, I had to replace ‘monkey face’ with ‘game face.’

My in-laws flew me up while my husband was away at work, and being alone with our baby girl Phoebe meant I would have no back-up in the event “the monkey” made an inadvertent appearance.  Thankfully, flying with a little one who is still nursing brings a set of challenges that completely distracted me from my usual preoccupation with falling out of the sky in a ball of fire.  Fear was quickly replaced by an apologetic air while Phoebe screamed, and then an even more apologetic air while I stuck her head under my shirt so she would stop.  I lay a blanket over my shirt to shield the spectacle and relaxed while she enjoyed a snack that would fill her tummy and pop her ears.

To say the man in the seat next to me was “visibly uncomfortable” is the understatement of the century.  He had eyed me earlier as I made my way down the aisle toward his row with all the joy of someone anticipating root canal.   He recoiled from my aisle seat and hunched so far into the fuselage wall and window that I thought he might actually have a parachute strapped to his back.

Just in case I wasn’t picking up the vibe, he proceeded to ring the flight attendant bell and ask if there were any free seats, “… any at all anywhere else on the plane.”

“I’m sorry,” the female attendant said without sympathy, “It’s a full flight today.”

When the attendant was out of sight, I addressed the man who was now unsuccessfully feigning sleep with a scowl on his face.

“Listen, I’m not going to apologize for feeding my daughter.  You either deal with the most natural thing in the world or deal with a baby screaming in your ear.”

And then the turbulence hit.  I could feel the monkey coming on.  The monkey who was stopped dead in his tracks by the sound of my precious baby farting and crapping so loudly it could be heard over the steady roar of a 737.

Ah the sweet sounds and smells of comic relief.  I didn’t even care that the plane was being tossed about like one of my daughter’s toys.  After about fifteen minutes of baby grunts, and the unmistakable sound of a diaper filling up, Mr. Uncomfortable felt compelled to actually speak to me.

“You should take care of that.” He eyed my daughter like she was a Hefty bag that needed to be taken to the curb.  The new mother in me resisted the urge to slap the hostile look right off his face.

But he had a point. She stank.

The thought of changing her diaper at 37,000 feet in a cramped space the size of a genie’s bottle that doubled as an international germ factory was bringing on a round of anxiety that threatened to dash my calm veneer.  I had been so good.  No monkey noises.  Phoebe wasn’t picking up on my fear because I’d kept it in check.  Taking her to that closet with a vacuum that posed as a toilet just wasn’t an option.

And then I took a deep breath in an attempt to shore myself up for the task, but inhaling just shored up my gag reflex.  At a mere four months, my daughter had managed to produce a stench that could rival the dumps on Staten Island. (FYI for the non-New Yorkers- those suckers can be seen from space.)  Sour milk and garbage.  This is what she had created.  My urge to hurl subsided considerably and my baby was content in the way one can only be after a great meal and a spectacular shit.  I held her in my lap and debated whether stripping her down in an airplane toilet while the plane was still bucking against a headwind was the best option.

As Mr. Uncomfortable had no emotional attachment to the source, he couldn’t suppress his gag reflex and he retched several times before issuing a reminder.

“Take care of that.  Now.”

I usually play well with others.  I swear.  But this was war.

“Sure thing,” I said, syrupy sweet.

Cradling my daughter in the arm nearest the aisle, I reached into the diaper bag to pull out a diaper and baby wipes, then began unbuttoning my daughter’s pajamas.

“You aren’t going to change her right here are you?” Mr. Uncomfortable’s eyes were enormous.

“It’s not safe to get up during this kind of turbulence with a baby.  And we’ve already started our descent into LaGuardia.”

He studied me to see if I was bluffing.  I wasn’t.  I had changed this kid on my lap, on sidewalks, on backseats.  I gave him my best “try me” look and finished unbuttoning Phoebe’s pajamas.  Without that extra barrier of clothing the shit was intense.  Mr. Uncomfortable gagged while I smiled and handed him an air sickness bag which he snatched from my hand.

“Should I just wait until we land?”  I offered.

He nodded.

The captain came over the cabin speakers.

“There’s a little bit of a backup at LaGuardia tonight due to high winds.  We’re going to have to circle around for awhile until we get clearance for landing.  We’ll have you on the ground in about thirty minutes.”

For thirty minutes I bounced Phoebe in my lap and sang to her while she smiled and continued to reek of sour milk and garbage.

Mr. Uncomfortable just clung to his air sickness bag, staring at the back of the seat in front of him and enduring the longest thirty minutes of his life.


Passport to Dis-ASS-ter

13 May

When anticipating a trip to a foreign country, most people worry about things like passports, language barriers and “did I forget anything?”  However, when I plan to visit a country for the first time, I worry about toilets.  And after many trips to different places around the world, I have good reason to be anxious.  If you’ve never left America, you probably don’t understand my fear of the toilet unknown, so I’ll explain how toilets came to be my number one concern when traveling.

A dance club in Songton, South Korea provided a unique toilet experience. To use the one private toilet in the place, women had to walk past the urinal trough that all the men pissed in. However, once you made it to the lone toilet room, you had to hover over the ancient toilet bowl with no seat – a toilet with a permanent crust on it that can only be described as outhouse nasty. Hovering was no easy feat when drunk and there was always a good chance you’d fall into the hole unless you had a girlfriend holding your hands. So any given night out, you’d find yourself and a couple of your best girlfriends crammed into a little stall laughing and holding onto one another while each one pissed. And if you couldn’t contain the belly laughs long enough to sustain your friend’s hover and you dropped her – party over.  It was a long walk back home. Also, you’d better find yourself another bathroom buddy because always in the back of your mind you were wondering if she wasn’t planning her own horrible toilet plunge revenge on you.

In Germany, no two toilets are alike, so every time you go to the bathroom, you play another game of “Find the flush button.” Some would have the button or lever on the top of the tank, on the side, in the wall, and sometimes even in the floor. One restaurant’s toilet had me so stumped after 15 minutes of looking for the flush button, I had to track down a waitress to show me where the thing was hiding. With some exasperation, she showed me that it was a step button on the floor that happened to blend in with the floor tile. I was so annoyed that I wished I’d had a stinking turd in the bowl waiting to offend her further.  A friend who just recently returned from a trip to Germany said he got these directions from a host: “FYI, the flush button is behind you to the left, about four feet off the floor, near the light switch. And it’s shaped like a poorly made pancake.”

And then you have the coin operated restrooms found in many European cities. I was visiting Ireland recently when the urge to relieve my bladder overtook me. I thought that the coin operated restrooms would be the way to go since everything is automated from the toilet paper, the faucet, the soap and the paper towels dispenser and the enclosure is automatically washed and rinsed after each use…or is supposed to be. I put my coins into the slot and the door opened. I rushed in without looking around and after the automatic door shut behind me, I was horrified to find that the automatic washing was not washing anymore and hadn’t been for some time.  There was vomit, shit and pee all over the tiny room. The few seconds it took for the door to open and let me out felt like an eternity. Thankfully the room next to the filthy one was clean and ready to go, so I quickly used it and went on my way. Needless-to-say, I made sure I used restrooms in restaurants and hotels and stayed away from the glorified port-a-potties for the rest of the trip.

Sometimes there isn’t a toilet at all; sometimes it’s a hole in the ground. One trip abroad was to a little village on the edge of the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. Our hotel had its own water supply and running water, so I naively assumed that other businesses in town would have running water too. Imagine my horror when I had to use the restroom for the first time at a restaurant in town and the waitress proceeded to escort me to a hole in the ground in a courtyard behind the building.  Most would’ve thanked her and waited to go once they got back to their hotel.  But me? I had the first rumblings of Montezuma’s Revenge building up so there was no waiting. It was going to be the hole in the ground or my shorts, so I chose the hole in the ground. It was terribly embarrassing as the little kids who lived around the courtyard laughed at every grunt and fart. After wiping with the few squares of toilet paper provided and no way to wash my hands, I couldn’t get back to our hotel fast enough. Thankfully I never had to the use the hole again the rest of the trip.

Before I’d ever ventured past the borders of the US, I never thought I’d one day give thanks for my easy-to-use, clean, private toilet, but I do say a prayer of thanks for my toilet, after every single trip.

It’s a Crappy Job, but…

19 Oct

I take my daughter to a beautiful children’s garden in Columbia, South Carolina. It is an idyllic piece of land on a hilltop overlooking a lake. Butterflies flit about, bumblebees buzz from flower to flower, birds sing from pine trees and swoop from feeder to feeder. We love everything about the garden, except the facilities. There are two port-a-potties. Those are the facilities. The garden’s proximity to a major shopping district makes it the perfect place for my two-year-old to blow off steam after a morning of errands. The downside is that after a morning of errands and a lunch at Moe’s Tex-Mex, the toddler pipes are usually ready to dispatch something that for some reason couldn’t manifest itself in the immaculate restrooms of Target just thirty minutes before.

I’ve been frequenting the children’s garden since I was pregnant. Never in those three years have I seen the honey pot service that empties the port-a-potties. Until last week. My daughter, Phoebe, had just informed me that she had to pee and she couldn’t hold it much longer.
“Don’t worry, sweetheart. You can go in the port-a-potty here at the garden.”

As soon as I uttered, “garden,” a noisy truck rounded the bend behind us and cut across the grass to where the port-a-potties stand sentinel near some large shrubs.

“What is that Mommy?” asked Phoebe.

“Oh, no! That’s the truck that sucks the poopy and pee pee out of the toilets. If we hurry we can get to the potty and ask the nice man if we can go pee pee before he cleans it.”

Why I assumed that a man whose sole employment consists of toting around an enormous vacuum cleaner for strangers’ shit would be nice, I can’t tell you. What I can tell you is that he seemed intensely bitter about his lot in life. Phoebe and I were dashing towards the port-a-potties when his glare stopped up in our tracks.

“ ’scuse me, I need to pee pee,” my daughter offered meekly, doing the proverbial ‘gotta-go’ dance.

“Sir, we would really appreciate it if we could use the bathroom before you clean it. She’s two and, well you know how that is. I don’t know how long she can hold it.”

He looked right at me, hard lines around his eyes squinting with disapproval. The man was only three feet from us. He had to have heard us. He looked at my dancing toddler who was holding her crotch; he looked at me. He made a decision. He turned his back to us and grabbed the crap-encrusted nozzle of the shit sucker and thrust it into the first port-a-potty and planted himself between the first and second port-a-potty so no one could access either ‘facility.’

“Mommy, I really have to go.”

“I know sweetheart. Maybe it won’t take too long. Excuse me, sir? How long before we could use the toilet?” His reply was to take the hose out of one shit pot and plug it into the other, stare at me menacingly, then turn his back again to grab a bucket of chemicals from the truck which he proceeded to chuck into the first port-a-potty, presumably to disinfect its floor.

“He’s not listening to us,” Phoebe pleaded.

“No, Phoebe,” I said loudly for his benefit. “He’s not. So, you know what?” You can go right here.” I yanked her pants down while returning the glare of the disgruntled honey pot dumper. She squatted while I supported her, making a wide puddle of piss that trailed off in a winding yellow river that stopped just short of the angry man’s boot.

“Ahhhh,” said Phoebe, relieved. “You know Mommy sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Not everyone is nice.”

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